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homage rendered to God, which it is sinful (idolatry) to render to any created being (Exodus 34:14; Isaiah 2:8)
Such worship was refused by Peter (Acts 10:25-26) and by an angel (Rev. 22:8-9).
“Angels—like all other intelligent creatures—were designed to render worship to God, not to receive worship themselves. In fact, in every case in Scripture, whenever angels are offered any form of worship, they always rebuke the worshiper and redirect all worship to God alone.” (John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven)
Jesus Christ accepted worship from many people, because he is the Son of God, part of the divine Trinity.
Importance of worship
“It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men.” (C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms)
God seeks true worshippers. Jesus said,
“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” —John 4:23-24
Scripture indicates that true followers of Christ were saved, redeemed and regenerated to worship God. The redeemed are to worship Him everywhere and all the time, especially in community with other redeemed people. Our worship is to be from our inner being—enthusiastic, from deep in our souls, not superficial and not by some rote and barren repetition or formal liturgy. As the Apostle Paul said,
“I worship God in my spirit” (Romans 1:9).
“Bless the Lord, 0 my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” (Psalm 103:1)
What is proper worship?
To worship God in spirit, as He seeks…
Our inner self must redeemed and regenerated—transformed by God. We must be alive spiritually, not dead. One must have a spiritual life, and it must be alive to God. This comes through eternal salvation, which indwells us with God’s Holy Spirit.
We must study God’s Word—discovering its truths and meditating upon them.
HUMILITY—having a sense of our unworthiness and of God’s grace and mercy toward us
“Saints are described as fearing the name of God; they are reverent worshippers; they stand in awe of the Lord’s authority; they are afraid of offending Him; they feel their own nothingness in the sight of the Infinite One.” (Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Comments on Psalm 61:5)
FOCUS—Our thoughts and our heart must resolutely focus on God and His work.
Frequently in Scripture, God indicts people for worshipping Him superficially, with hearts that are far away from Him.
SINCERE, UNDIVIDED HEART—Our heart must not be divided.
“I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart.” (Psalm 9:1)
“O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” (Psalm 108:1)
“Without the heart it is not worship; it is a stage play; an acting a part without being that person really a hypocrite. We may truly be said to worship God-though we lack perfection; but we cannot be said to worship Him if we lack sincerity.” (Stephen Charnock)
“Search me, 0 God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
daily “washing”—confession of sin / dealing with any current sin in our life
Sin separates us from our Holy Father We must come to Him with an open and repentant spirit—a broken and a contrite spirit—being honest to God about our shortcomings, confessing our sins in repentance, truly anxious to become more righteous and godly. Throughout Scripture, when worship is discussed, we are reminded of the importance of confessing, repenting, cleansing, and purifying. Why? God is completely holy. We must mindful to approach him as such.
When we do the above things, we are worshipping God in spirit, and we may become overcome with His presence.
BUT, ardent enthusiasm and focus is certainly not enough. Proper worship must be based on God’s Truth, not on some heresy or erroneous teaching of man or Devil about how to worship God.
“All worship is in response to truth. There is no worship that is not linked inseparably to truth. Worship is not an emotional exercise with God-words, inducing feelings. Worship is a response built upon truth.
…the only place we’ll find God truly defined is in the Bible. It is the Bible that explains the God of creation and the God of conscience. Everything we know about God is in the Word of God. And to worship in truth then means to worship from out of an understanding of the Word of God. You cannot worship God in a vacuum. You cannot worship God apart from His revelation.
…If we are called to worship God then we want to worship God as God is. If we want to know how He is, we have to look at His self revelation. The Bible discloses the truth about God which guides our worship.
…Worship is an expression of praise from the depth of the heart toward a God who is understood… as He is truly revealed. ‘Sing ye praises with understanding.’ There's no virtue in saying you’re worshipping God in something which you don’t, nor does anybody else, comprehend. There’s no true worship apart from a true understanding of God. Any group that does not understand truth about God does not worship God, cannot worship God, for He is worshipped in spirit and according to truth.” (John MacArthur, sermon on True Worship)
“God must speak to us before we have any liberty to speak to him. He must disclose to us who he is before we can offer him what we are in acceptable worship. The worship of God is always a response to the Word of God. Scripture wonderfully directs and enriches our worship.” (John Stott)
“There is… great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose. not merely that we know God, but that He knows us.” (J.I. Packer)
“We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” (J.I. Packer)
Results of proper worship
God will be glorified (Leviticus 10:3).
God’s true worshippers are purified (Psalm 24:3-4—“He that cometh into My presence must come with clean hands and a pure heart”).
Worshippers will be changed for the better—becoming more obedient, more intimate with God, more godly lives, more full of good works
building up of the Church (edification)—strengthening it, finding favor with God, changing the world, following His will
“To gather with God’s people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer.” (Martin Luther)
effective evangelism—the lost will be won to Christ
“The profound testimony of a worshipping community has a greater impact probably than any single sermon does.” (John MacArthur, sermon on True Worship)
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” (John Piper)
“Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded. God will never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself; it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.” (Oswald Chambers)
Examples of unacceptable worship
worshipping in a way that contradicts His expressed will
When Christ said that “true worshippers shall worship the Father IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH,” he was instructing the Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritans’ worship was improper; although it may have been enthusiastic, it was not based on God’s true instructions. In the Old Testament, He told his followers to worship Him in Jerusalem, not in Gerizim, as the Samaritan’s wrongly chose to do.
worshipping in ignorance, instead of discovering and following God’s Truth
“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, ‘Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” (Acts 17:23)